By Sue Moore
“If you continue to ‘pay it forward’, the more satisfying it is,” exclaims Thad Reeder as he reflects on his new automotive business and his family’s dedication to giving back. “It’s a good feeling when you can help people, whether it’s fixing their car or providing food to fill backpacks at Generous Hands.”
It all started when Thad and his wife, Christina, cleaned their basement storage out to help 30 families on Gull Road when their apartments were burned out. Son Payton, five at the time, produced a pillow pack of all his toys to give to a little girl who lost everything. At Peyton’s 5th and 6th birthday parties he told all his little guests to bring food in lieu of gifts, to go in the Friday backpacks that Generous Hands distributes. Four year old Zoey did the same thing for her birthday party recently.
Now the family has opened Thad Reeder’s Automotive at 158 N. Kalamazoo Ave., in Vicksburg. Pastor David Downs of the Chapman Memorial Nazarene Church, began the dedication ceremony on June 8, 2013 with this comment, “We commit this business, the staff, Thad and Christina and all who may serve here to make this business an asset to the community it serves.”
Reeder has been a mechanic for over 20 years, having graduated from Ferris State in Applied Science in Automotive Technology. The last 14 years, he has worked at Kendall Auto Repair on Portage Road. The timing was right to start their own business when Jerry Schippers had the perfect building available and they only needed to get hoists and lines in, paint and decorate the interior so it wouldn’t be the typical greasy repair place, the couple notes. We wanted to make the shop inviting, says Christina. We wanted to make the shop an inviting atmosphere for the whole family. “We have been grateful by the positive response in just the three months that we have been open,” she adds.
“Cars are so different now since fuel injection became the norm in the middle ‘80s,” Thad explains. “It has brought a new level of technology to the playing field. Those that worked on models before the transition known as carburetors, brakes, shocks and exhausts made for dirty and dusty work. Now it’s imperative to know and understand physics, electronics and have sleuthing skills, Reeder says.
“This also changed repair facilities into technology shops that do it all in nice clean buildings with state of the art equipment. These are better cars being made today. They are more accurate and adaptable, and with that come more complications. Diagnostics are like reading a book with data streams telling you the picture of what all the different sensors are doing and showing them on the screen of your computer. You have to know the codes to make the right fixes and figure out why the car or truck is malfunctioning.”
The Reeder family came from Galesburg ten years ago because of the Vicksburg schools’ fine reputation, Christina says. The small town atmosphere is something they like very much. “We just want to make enough money to continue to help people,” Thad says as he proudly shows off the working quarters of his new business and expresses his commitment to the people in this community